Lethal fireworks get sales ban

Fireworks which caused two deaths during this year's bonfire night celebrations were banned from sale to the public under emergency measures brought in by ministers last night. The aerial shell and aerial maroon fireworks, often imported from China, are launched from mortar tubes.

Last month a primary head teacher died when one of the fireworks exploded in his face. David Hattersley, 45, was presiding over a display at Hazlemere Church of England Combined School in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. A City trader, Steve Timcke, 34, died after lighting one of the fireworks in his garden in Dartford, Kent.

Last night John Taylor, the consumer affairs minister, said the fireworks should only be used in public displays. He was anxious to ensure there were no more fatalities or injuries over Christmas and New Year. "It has now become clear that aerial shells and aerial maroons pose a very high risk to users ... I have taken action to make sure they are only supplied to those who are in the business of operating fireworks displays, or are in the business of supplying fireworks."

Labour welcomed the move but said its own campaign had forced the Government into the decision. Nigel Griffiths, consumer affairs spokesman, said the party had been campaigning for three years to have the shells banned and to reinstate a series of firework safety measures which the Government had scrapped.